The Bannister Gallery was established in 1978 in honor of Edward Mitchell Bannister, a notable nineteenth-century African American artist. Edward Mitchell Bannister was a prominent member of the Providence art community and a founding member of the Providence Art Club.

Located In Rhode Island College's Roberts Hall, the Bannister Gallery presents a yearly calendar of 7-8 exhibitions by local, regional, and internationally renowned artists. The Gallery aims to present a diverse set of art that ranges from traditional media, painting and sculpture, to more contemporary formats including photography, graphic design and digital media.

The exhibits are selected by the Bannister Gallery Committee panel which is made up of the Bannister Gallery Director and members of the Art Department Faculty. The Bannister Gallery strives to create an inclusive environment for the public with the aim of building relationships within the arts community of Rhode Island.